“In ‘Earth Blues’…Billy Cox’s bass lines have the feel of Charlie Mingus playing bottom runs in his ‘Fables of Faubus.’ Billy Cox has arrived within Jimi’s music. Billy Cox is terse and tough. He covers the bottom without any yearnings for the top. He has an understated funk groove that is so subtle that even when he gets into off-tonalities it all flows in a fluid groove. He can rev and snarl, strut and talk, and never blow the groove. His steady jazzlike presence fuses the wide range of tonals on the bottom shelf together. And that was just what Jimi wanted so he could have complete freedom on top: a steady and consistent, yet creative, bottom presence.”
From the book: "'SCUSE ME WHILE I KISS THE SKY" By David Henderson
At center stage is Billy Cox. Along with a solid bass groove that Billy Cox brings to a song, Billy Cox’s vocals are seasoned with a life of living. Just take a listen. “OLD SCHOOL BLUE BLUES” is Billy Cox’s latest album. Billy wanted to return to a traditional blues feel and to pay homage to the music that he “grew up with”.
Billy often points out the music that Jimi Hendrix played was nothing more than loud blues. It was Jimi’s blues soul and rock-n-roll spirit that jettisoned this “STAR MAN” in and out of dimensions.
Billy is grateful that he has the love and support of countless fans around the world. The overwhelming success of the Experience Hendrix tours bears witness to the timeless appeal of the music that most identifies Billy Cox. Along with the music that he “grew up with”, Traditional Blues, BILLY COX’S NEW BAND OF GYPSYS promises to give you both… Now that’s exciting!
Legendary bassist and Musicians Hall of Fame inductee Billy Cox, is synonymous with almost any reference to Jimi Hendrix and Rock-n-Roll history. From their army days, Billy would always have an extended friendship with Jimi Hendrix. The kindred spirits would have a musical chemistry that was nurtured over the years as both performed regularly as sidemen for the most prominent blues and R&B acts of the day. The bond between the two men would write a new chapter in music history.
Billy Cox was born in Wheeling, West Virginia. His father was a Baptist minister and teacher of mathematics and his mother was a classical pianist. Billy was blessed with the best of both worlds. One world revolved around the strong intellectual discipline of his father and the other world revolved around the loving tenderness and sensitivity of his mother.
During his early teen years, Billy’s family moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Destiny must have been smiling on him. Billy’s appreciation of skilled musicianship deepened as he was being musically influenced by some of the greatest names in jazz history who also called Pittsburgh home. The city itself was a jazz haven with a happening club scene.
After high school, Billy enlisted in the army and joined one of the army’s finest, the 101st Airborne Division. It was here that Billy met and became friends with Jimi Hendrix. The friendship lasted a lifetime and was cemented with the harmony and rhythm that flowed between them.
After being discharged from the army, Billy and Jimi played at the local night spots in the South and Mid-West. They played the dives on the “chitlin circuit.” In later years, Billy and Jimi often joked that wherever they performed, each place had a hole in the wall. The two finally settled in Nashville and formed The King Casuals Band. The group would include the original and later renowned Muscle Shoals horn section.
Between 1962 and 1968 the musical experience and expertise of Billy Cox began its ascension. Billy played bass on the television programs, “The Beat” from Dallas, Texas and Nashville’s “Night Train.” Billy worked closely with Hoss Allen and John Richbourg of WLAC Radio. Indeed, Billy Cox has played behind some great ones. He has either been a member of the house or touring band or recording session, as he played behind music legends such as: From the never hurry and ever mellow Sam Cooke to a messenger of the blues, Slim Harpo; from the cool and crisp sound of Joe Simon to the Pied Piper of grateful ears, Charlie Daniels; from the grandfather of R&B funk, Rufus Thomas to his daughter, the sultry-bluesy R & B artist, Carla Thomas; From THE VOICE, Lou Rawls to a blues royal Etta James; from the always ready to “work it out,” Jackie Wilson to the proclaimed King of Rock-n-Roll, Little Richard.
During this period Billy also played bass on 50 percent of all black gospel music recorded in Nashville. Among the gospel notables were Sister Edna Galva Cook, Brother Joe May, Shirley Cesar, The Brooklyn All Stars and the Consolers. Sometimes Billy has taken his bass across the country line. He has played on sessions with skilled musicians such as Jerry Reed, Ken Buttery, David Briggs and DJ Fontana; along with folk artist, JJ Cale and Dave Onley.
Billy would be able to use his musical experience as he proved to be a catalyst for Jimi Hendrix as Jimi explored new musical territory. From Woodstock to the Isle of Wight, the history of American blues and Rock-n-Roll would be altered.
Along with fellow friend and star in his own right, drummer Buddy Miles, the friendship of Jimi Hendrix and Billy Cox would forever be etched in music history with the Band of Gypsys. The Band of Gypsys was a power trio that fused blues and hard rock. Rolling Stone Magazine in its 20th anniversary issue in 1987 cited the Band of Gypsys concert as one of the ten greatest concerts of all time.
Today Billy Cox owns a video production company. He has produced numerous blues and a myriad of gospel shows. He co-authored the books, JIMI HENDRIX SESSIONS and ULTIMATE HENDRIX with John McDermott and Eddie Kramer. Billy has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors among which: In 2009 Billy Cox was inducted into The Musicians Hall Of Fame; Billy received The Founders Award in 2010. It was given by Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen and in 2011 Billy was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall Of Fame.
The complete list of great of great ones that Billy Cox has performed, toured or recorded with is too numerous for this format to enumerate. However, an additional selected listing of who’s who in R&B/Blues includes:
Mitty Collier (tour band leader)
Little Johnny Taylor